Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

Christchurch Council defers long-term plan for two years

The earthquake-damaged Christchurch CBD. Photo / NZ Herald
The earthquake-damaged Christchurch CBD. Photo / NZ Herald

Christchurch City Council has deferred its post-earthquake long-term plan for two years after the Government said more time was needed to come up with a blueprint.

It was due to release a draft long-term plan for the rebuilding city this month.

But the Government was concerned that more time was needed to come up with the crucial blueprint for the council's work and finances over the next decade.

After a special private meeting this morning, it's been decided that the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's (Cera) powers will be invoked to defer the council's long-term plan until 2015.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker the announced the joint accord which, they say, will allow an earthquake recovery cost-sharing method to be mutually agreed.

Under the Local Government Act, the council is required to begin consultation on its long-term plan in March.

Now, the council will undertake a new plan, to be called the Christchurch City Three Year Plan, and will commence consultation next month as planned.

Mr Brownlee said this new planning process would give surety to Christchurch rate payers, the people of Christchurch, the New Zealand tax payer, the financial markets and development partners.

"Under normal circumstances a Long Term Plan outlines a council's rating and spending expectations for the next decade but at this stage in the Christchurch rebuild we need a more appropriate planning mechanism that takes into account more immediate goals," Mr Brownlee said.

"Banks, bond markets and ratings agencies, along with businesses and households take significant guidance from councils' Long Term Plans."

Mr Parker said the key benefits for the city resulting from the agreement is certainty around cost sharing arrangements and decision-making processes relating to the central city key rebuild projects, and cost sharing arrangements relating to all other council costs, including horizontal infrastructure.

"The Minister has confirmed these agreements will be in place by the end of April 2013," Mr Parker said.

"Like any business the city council needs to plan ahead and give its people certainty, this three year plan will do that.

"This accord will ensure the Christchurch City Council adopts a sound prudent plan that is fully costed and establishes a solid financial footing for the city's future."

Cera's powers will be invoked to allow the Long Term Plan process to be deferred until 2015, by which time a cost-sharing method will be worked through between the Crown and the Council.

"City councillors, along with the Crown, are committed to presenting the most realistic and achievable process to shoulder the financial burden caused by this series of catastrophic earthquakes, with a joint aim of rebuilding the city to be the very best it can be," Mr Brownlee said.

- APNZ

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